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Canadiens 3, Predators 2 @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL (AP) -The Montreal Canadiens are giving backup goalie Jaroslav Halak enough offensive support to keep up their winning ways at home.

Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist, and Robert Lang had two assists to lead Montreal to a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse also scored, and Halak stopped 23 shots in his seventh straight start in place of injured All-Star starter Carey Price.

"We've been great lately and we've been scoring a lot of goals," said Halak, who was the beneficiary of 22 goals' worth of support during a four-game winning streak that preceded the Canadiens' 3-1 loss in Boston on Tuesday night.

Montreal improved to 5-0-1 at home since Dec. 13 when the Canadiens wrapped up a franchise-record seven-game homestand with a 2-1 loss to Washington.

"Every time you're able to bounce back after a loss it's a good two points," said Lang, who assisted on Kostitsyn's power-play goal in the second and Markov's goal early in the third that put Montreal up 3-1.

J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler scored for Nashville, which had won three of four - including a 2-0 win in Toronto on Tuesday night - following a season-high five-game losing streak.

"We knew that they were going to come hard, they've got a lot of skills and speed, and there were a few bounces for them and it cost us the game," said Dumont, who ended a 16-game goal drought to tie the game early in the second.

Pekka Rinne made 17 saves after recording his fourth shutout of the season in his last start.

Markov drew an assist as Kostitsyn extended his points streak to six games with a power-play goal 8:46 into the second that put Montreal up 2-1.

The Predators outshot Montreal 25-20 overall, including a 10-2 margin in the second.

"I think we made some mistakes in the second period and we didn't bury our heads down and we just kept working hard," Latendresse said. "We knew we were facing a team that wouldn't quit and it was a hard battle, but we just kept working and doing the simple plays in the third that we weren't doing in the second."

Markov made it a two-goal lead 1:05 into the third when he was credited with his seventh goal after his shot caromed into the net off Nashville center Radek Bonk's skate.

Fiddler scored his seventh goal at 6:23 to draw the Predators within one.

Shea Weber and Jason Arnott were unable to play for Nashville due to injury.

Weber injured a foot while blocking a shot Tuesday. Arnott missed his third straight game because of an upper body injury.

"We missed those two guys but they're missing people, too, and we don't use that as an excuse," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We had some chances."

Steve Sullivan played his third straight game for Nashville since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for nearly two years.

Sullivan, who underwent two disk surgeries, has not scored a goal since Feb. 22, 2007, when he scored in a 6-5 shootout loss to Montreal. That was his last game before he was sidelined by back spasms for the final 19 games of that season, the entire 2007-08 season, and the first half of the current season.

"He's making good strides," Trotz said. "We're getting his ice time a little higher every game."

Latendresse opened the scoring with his eighth goal late in the first. Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges received Maxim Lapierre's cross-ice pass and dropped the puck back to Latendresse, who drove a slap shot past Rinne from the left side with 34 seconds left in the opening period.

Dumont drew Nashville even with his eighth goal 6:35 into the second, his first since Dec. 8.

Notes: Sullivan played 18:19 and had three shots on goal. He has 159 points in 153 regular-season games with the Predators. ... Nashville has scored two goals or less in 11 of its last 14 games. ... Kostitsyn has 10 points during his streak, including six goals and four assists.

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